Facebook takes many forms: it's a social network, a photo album, and a game platform, among other things. But with the recent announcement of a partnership with agencies including the U.S. Department of Labor, Facebook may soon become another entity to its users: a job search site.
The social network launched "Social Jobs", an online platform that provides advice and tools for the job hunt from its partners at the Department of Labor, DirectEmployers Association, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.
[Find out how social media can help and hinder a job search.]
While there is no official jobs tool within the online platform yet, there are ways for students and recent graduates to use the social network to their advantage professionally. Here are five tips for college students to use Facebook strategically while looking for a job:
1. Craft privacy settings appropriately: While it has become standard advice to set privacy settings on Facebook, some students have faced consequences when they've failed to follow this guidance.
"We've certainly seen instances where employers saw things on Facebook and decided not to extend an offer," says Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University's College of Business Administration.
While students should protect themselves by blocking potentially damaging content from the public, there can be a distinct advantage to crafting settings to cater to a specific company, says David McDonough, director of career services at Clark University in Massachusetts. For example, if you're a student interested in a music company, publicly displaying your musical tastes "could be beneficial," he notes, while settings may have to be more guarded if you're interested in a Fortune 500 company.
[See why your privacy settings can affect college admissions chances.]
2. Evaluate your profile picture: Although privacy settings may restrict what recruiters see on Facebook, they will be able to view your current profile picture. While employers are not supposed to discriminate, they could be influenced by a photo deemed inappropriate by their standards, Sarikas notes.
"It may be a great picture of you and your buddies with a can of beer in your hand, but that's probably not what you want an employer to see," she says. "And if that is the first thing they see, they're probably not going to call you."
When a recruiter is looking at a job candidate's profile picture, he or she is trying to picture that person in a professional setting, says Rob McGovern, founder of CareerBuilder and CEO of Jobfox. "I wouldn't say on Facebook to have a suit and tie on, but I would say [to] have something where an employer can visualize you as fitting into their culture."
[Learn how using the right photo online can help your career.]
3. Interact with companies: A student who is interested in career opportunities at a specific company should become a fan of it on Facebook, says Oriana Vogel, vice president for global recruitment and HR operations at American Express.
"We are seeing candidates come to us through Facebook," Vogel says. "We want them to come to us…and assess if we're the right fit for them."
Vogel says that American Express, which recently launched an "Amex Careers" tab on Facebook, has recruiters who monitor Facebook pages and interact with candidates interested in opportunities with the company. Others are following suit, too, says Dave Kerpen, co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, a social media marketing firm.
"When people post on our Facebook page who are interested in our company, we get excited," Kerpen says. "Ideally, every company is looking for people who are passionate about their company, and candidates can take advantage of that by being active on those Facebook pages."
[Read about the increased presence of colleges on Facebook.]
4. Participate in Facebook groups: Monica Weber, a 2011 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, applied to 168 jobs during her search before landing a position with a public relations firm in Boston. During this time, she interacted and networked with Holy Cross alumni and fellow job seekers in professional groups, such as the Young Professionals Network.